URGENT CALL TO WORLD CIVIL SOCIETY:
BREAK THE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE, ACT BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
We, the undersigned, believe that a full-scale Israeli offensive
throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is imminent and
that such an unprecedented attack demands from global civil society
an unprecedented response. For this reason, we urge global civil
society - including human rights organisations, solidarity groups,
and individuals - to take immediate direct action to stop Israel's
all-out war against the Palestinian people and its 35-year
belligerent military occupation of the Gaza strip and West Bank,
including east Jerusalem.
Today, Israeli occupying forces invaded the compound of PNA President
Yasser Arafat in Ramallah as part of a systematic and longstanding
campaign to undermine, humiliate, and destroy the Palestinian
political leadership. Israeli troops have also seized complete
control of Ramallah and imposed a total curfew. At the same time,
Israeli officials have begun a massive military build-up, including
the mobilization of 10,000 army reservists, in preparation for an
openly declared war throughout the OPT that promises to be
widespread, prolonged, and bloody.
Earlier this month, escalating Israeli attacks - including willful
killings, indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment, complete
economic and social suffocation, and mass destruction of housing and
agriculture - culminated in full-scale invasions of Palestinian
refugee camps and villages that killed hundreds of civilians.
Statements by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today referring to
Arafat as the "enemy" and speaking of the need to "extirpate
Palestinian terrorism everywhere it exists" indicate that such
attacks are set to resume, with greater ferocity and scope, leading
to disastrous consequences.
Palestinian civil society groups have warned for years that Israel's
freedom to act as a state above the law would severely undermine
chances for a just and lasting peace. After decades of occupation,
apartheid, and ethnic cleansing and 18 months of all-out war against
a civilian population, we call for the international community not to
wait for massacres on the scale of those in Sabra and Shatila in
1982; the time for action is now.
The support for the Palestinian people shown by international
solidarity groups, manifested in numerous statements, visits, and
actions, has proved invaluable throughout this crisis. Now is the
time for global civil society to use the momentum it has generated
and the ethical integrity it has demonstrated to forcefully demand
immediate action from governments to end the occupation, which is the
root cause of the conflict.
Governments, including those currently meeting at the UN Commission
on Human Rights, must face direct and unambiguous pressure from their
own people to immediately secure Israel's respect for the Fourth
Geneva Convention and its complete withdrawal from the OPT as
necessary steps towards achieving a just and lasting peace.
To this end, we call upon all those who oppose occupation, apartheid,
ethnic cleansing, and war crimes, who are committed to justice and
peace, who are willing to speak truth to power, to:
- Raise your voices to break the conspiracy of silence among
governments that allows Israel, which enjoys the unlimited and
unconditional support of the US, to commit war crimes and other
violations of international humanitarian law with impunity.
- Clearly, vigorously, and publicly demonstrate before governments
and international organisations to demand immediate and effective
protection for Palestinian civilians in the OPT, through protests,
marches, media campaigns, and other peaceful means.
- Demand that governments end military assistance to Israel, suspend
economic ties, and support the prosecution of war criminals, and urge
other states to do so.
- Continue and intensify your activities as part of a sustained and
systematic campaign to end the occupation, apartheid, ethnic
cleansing, and war crimes in the OPT and to support the legitimate
rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Now is the time for immediate and direct action, as the pattern of
escalating oppression and brutality that we have experienced over the
past 18 months moves inexorably towards a disaster whose consequences
we can only begin to imagine. In this dark hour of suffering and
determined resistance, we are sure that the worst is yet to come, but
we are equally sure that, with the support of global civil society at
this crucial time, peace and justice will prevail.
Dr. Heydar Abdel-Shafi
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti
Dr. Azmi Bishara
Dr. Eyad Sarraj
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